The Sundog Trail zigzags over and past mountain ridges in the grassy open space south of Prescott Lakes Parkway that provides welcome breathing room between the big-box retail and auto dealerships at Prescott Gateway Mall and the splendor of the Granite Dells.
It offers a first-rate workout surrounded by some of the area’s most iconic peaks, reminding you just how much beauty is packed into a small area.
So get your boots on and head in the opposite direction of most foot traffic at the Prescott Peavine’s southern trailhead just east of Highway 89 and the parkway. Take the straight path south from the parking lot for about three-quarters of a mile along the edge of Watson Woods, then cross Sundog Ranch Road to find the sign marking the start of the Sundog Trail.
Before the first mile ends, you’ll start making your first climb toward the top of a long-closed landfill, affording a lovely view back to Watson Lake and beyond to the majesty of Granite Mountain.
Then you’ll plunge down into a small valley, passing numerous small trees and shrubs as you approach the Juvenile Detention Center just after the 2-mile mark. Then it’s time to push yourself against another grade, curving around a ridge until reaching Prescott Lakes Parkway, then dodging back.
The trail continues to meander through open grassland, then pumps you up one final incline as you approach Highway 69 and Gateway Mall as the vegetation thickens. You’ll stay under the grade of the highway as you reach the tunnel taking you under the road into the Badger Mountain Trail.
This trail was completed in 2014 as an important link for completion of the Prescott Circle Trail, a 56-mile series of trails that circumnavigates the City. Also referred to as the Sundog to Lowes Hill Trail, it connects the Watson Lake area to Highway 69 about half a mile east of the Lowe’s Home Improvement store. Bring water with you as the route offers little shade, and it does become muddy after rainstorms. Its northern end is accessed near the Prescott Peavine Trail’s primary trailhead on Sundog Road, which can be reached from downtown Prescott by traveling west on Gurley Street until it intersects with Highways 69 and 89, merging into northbound Highway 89. Continue northeast until Prescott Lakes Parkway and turn right, driving east to the first left turn onto Sundog Ranch Road, in front of the Yavapai Humane Society. Follow the signs guiding you to the trailhead parking, then proceed south on the Peavine, which quickly becomes the Sundog Trail. The southern end of the trail tunnels under Highway 69 and becomes the Badger Mountain Trail. There’s no dedicated parking, but a dirt path at the back of the York Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership offers a connection to its southern end.
Parking fees: None
Uses: Hiking, mountain biking,
Distance: 5.18 miles
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 5,177 feet to 5,682 feet